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Gardening as a Political Act of Necessary Beauty

"We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it." (Lawrence Durrell)

As I write, it’s the first day of spring. I’ve been busy with tasks ordained by the season: checking the gardens for winter damage, deciding what flats of sedges and flowers to order, starting seeds in the greenhouse and considering what vegetables to put in. The sap is finally rising; the tall maples have gone fuzzy at the tips of their branches, as they do when in bloom, and the bur oaks have developed the sort of knobbly look on their twigs that announces the swelling of buds. The trees are moving more limberly in response to the wind after prolonged winter stiffness. Still, everything remains, briefly, just barely, in abeyance before the sudden mad rush of April and May.

Right now, I’m supposed to be answering some basic questions posed by a person new to native plant gardening: How do you start learning about native plants? I…

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